Baker Academic has a brand new website! Click Here To Visit:

Psalms, Volume 1

Psalms 1–41

series: Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms

Cover Art Request Exam Copy

Where to Purchase


In this first volume of a three-volume commentary on the book of Psalms, Old Testament scholar John Goldingay provides a lucid introduction to the Psalter and fresh commentary on Psalms 1-41. Writing with a scholar's eye and a pastor's heart, Goldingay considers the literary, historical, and grammatical dimensions of the text as well as its theological implications. The resulting commentary will bring the Psalms to life for a new generation of students.

In addition to the commentary on Psalms 1-41, this volume contains Goldingay's introduction to the entire book of Psalms. This thorough introduction provides unique perspectives on matters such as the purpose of the Psalter, Psalms and history, poetry in the Psalms, the Psalms and worship, the Psalms and spirituality, and the Psalms and theology. Each chapter of the commentary proper contains the author's translation of a particular psalm, which shows in English some of the salient features of the Hebrew text. An interpretation of the psalm, section-by-section, follows. Also included is an extensive glossary section treating the vocabulary of Psalms 1-41 and noting how certain words are used to convey critical concepts.

This volume is part of the Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms series. The series is tailored to the distinctives of poetry and wisdom literature. Features include:


"One of our premier interpreters, John Goldingay, offers here a comprehensive treatment of the Psalms. Rarely does one find such a combination of close attention to grammatical and syntactical features joined with literary sensitivity, and all of it aimed at theological appropriation of the Psalms. Don't be surprised to find Anne Lamott alongside Luther, Calvin, Aquinas, and Isaac Watts. A basic resource for studying the Psalms."--Patrick D. Miller, professor of Old Testament theology emeritus, Princeton Theological Seminary

"John Goldingay has come to this commentary on Psalms 1-41 after extensive work in other areas of biblical study. He has written a major commentary that incorporates solid, mainline scholarship, and it belongs with leading commentaries on the Psalter. His readers will find him to be a competent, mature, and careful guide in interpreting the Psalms. I recommend his work, and I look forward to further commentary from him."--Marvin E. Tate, senior professor of Old Testament, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

"This is a fine commentary on the first part of the book of Psalms, combining excellent scholarship and deep, practical spiritual reflection. Readers will find it to be an invaluable resource for their own life journeys, not least in the constructive challenge it presents to some modern Christian understandings of biblical spirituality."--Iain Provan, Marshall Sheppard Professor of Biblical Studies, Regent College

"Once again, John Goldingay has given us exemplary scholarship that will serve both church and academy very well indeed. The commentary is filled with mature theological insights, fresh ideas, and thoughtful reflections for contemporary appropriation. The clear and imaginative introduction alone is worth the price of the book."--Terence E. Fretheim, Elva B. Lovell Professor of Old Testament, Luther Seminary

"Pastors will benefit from Goldingay's lucid discussion of interpretive issues, which is always informed by the faith of the church. Scholars will be well served by the insightful textual notes and extensive bibliography. In sum, this volume is a welcome resource for the study of the Psalms from which many different readers may glean."--Jerome F. D. Creach, Robert C. Holland Professor of Old Testament, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

The Author

  1. John Goldingay

    John Goldingay

    John Goldingay (PhD, University of Nottingham) is senior professor of Old Testament and David Allan Hubbard Professor Emeritus of Old Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary. He is an ordained priest in the Church of England and is the author of numerous...

    Continue reading about John Goldingay


"[Goldingay] bring[s] texts alive for readers today. . . . His considerable scholarship opens the Psalms in the service of theological and ethical reflection and of the spiritual life. Literary and verbal features of the texts appear in clear, digestible amounts, and Goldingay's theological reflections make the book a valuable resource."--Kathleen O'Connor, Christian Century

"[This volume] will appeal to and prove valuable to all of these groups [scholars, ministers, seminary students, and Bible study leaders]. Scholars will appreciate especially John Goldingay's annotated translations; his careful and detailed textual analyses, often containing fresh insights and creative interpretive directions; and the extensive bibliographical information contained in the footnotes. Seminary students should appreciate Goldingay's elegant and eloquent modeling of how rigorous academic work can be done explicitly in the service of the church and its ministry. Ministers and Bible study leaders (along with some scholars and most seminary students) will appreciate Goldingay's helpful and faithful theological reflections in the 'Theological Implications' section that concludes his treatment of each psalm. . . . The result is an engaging and instructive invitation to claim the Psalms as sources for understanding and practicing the church's worship, spirituality, and mission, which is exactly what Goldingay intends."--J. Clinton McCann Jr., Interpretation

"This book sets out to be a Christian theological commentary on Psalms 1-41 and as such it succeeds. This is in many respects the ideal commentary for students aiming for service within the church and for their teachers: it is a solid academic commentary that explores the theological message of the Psalter from a Christian viewpoint. . . . The introduction provides a balanced overview of the various aspects of recent scholarship on the Psalter. While this introduction is of interest to the academic, it is particularly well suited for the educated layperson."--L.-S. Tiemeyer, Society for Old Testament Study Book List

"A welcome addition to the growing literature on the Book of Psalms. . . . [This commentary is] thorough, serious and thoughtful, and [is] explicitly intended for 'clergy and future clergy, namely seminary students.' However, any serious reader or expositor of the Scriptures will find a wealth of resources in [this volume]. After a brief but helpful Author's Preface where Goldingay outlines his translation and interpretive strategies, he provides a concise but thorough Introduction to the Book of Psalms using the most recent scholarship. This is followed by a translation and exposition of Psalms 1-41 (Book 1). The indices include a helpful glossary of English terms he has used to translate significant Hebrew words and their cognates, a concise bibliography, a subject index, an author index, and a thorough index of Scripture and other ancient writings including the Apocrypha and Church Fathers. The Introduction alone is worth the price of the book. . . . The translation notes are thorough and very helpful for anyone versed in the basics of textual criticism and Hebrew grammar. His Interpretation section combines careful lexical discussions with fuller analyses of meanings and reflections on Christian piety and worship. . . . Thoughtful readers will find [the Theological Implications] section very helpful in making connections to their immediate church, ministry or personal context. Goldingay writes both as a scholar and a pastor, and brings a fresh analysis that the present generation of pastors and teachers will find extremely helpful. I look forward to his next two volumes on the Psalms in this series."--David G. Barker, Eusebeia

"Seminarians and pastors alike will benefit substantially from Goldingay's 3-volume commentary."--William D. Barrick, Master's Seminary Journal

"This reviewer is particularly grateful for the notes [Goldingay] makes [in the preface] and regards this honest glimpse into his private life as an invaluable aid to understanding the features and contents of the commentary. . . . From the introduction one can already get a taste of what is to come in the commentary on the individual psalms: thorough engagement with the Hebrew text (and ancient versions of it); reflection on the work of a wide array of investigators into the Psalms (including some church fathers and other early Christian and Jewish authors); and original thinking from a prominent Old Testament theologian who is not afraid to differ from predecessors and contemporary investigators and translators. . . . There is no forced Christian application, and Jewish believers might also benefit tremendously from the mature and realistic theological reflection and challenging remarks. . . . The author should be commended for the importance he obviously attaches to significant extratextual material that forms part of the Old Testament context for understanding expressions and ideas in a particular psalm. . . . [The] index of Scripture and other ancient writings . . . will be of great value to those who would like to find notes on a particular psalm or verse quickly. . . . I can confidently state that this commentary is a worthwhile addition to the library of every Old Testament scholar, theological student, and perhaps especially every minister who needs to prepare sermons from the Psalter. . . . It contains a treasury of learning and recent research into the Psalms. Its strongest feature might be the stimulating and challenging remarks the author makes in the discussion of the theology of each psalm. . . . I am sure that everyone who makes use of this book will also look forward with great anticipation to the two volumes yet to be published."--Philippus J. Botha, Review of Biblical Literature

"This is a scholarly study. Critical notes follow the author's translations. . . . Extensive footnotes enable the author to engage the thinking of other scholars. Helpful aids for study include a glossary that clarifies some of the Hebrew words used in the commentary, a subject index, and an extensive index of biblical citations. This critical commentary will be appreciated by scholars and serious Bible students."--Dianne Bergant, CSA, Bible Today

"The Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms offers a series of substantial volumes on these OT books. . . . Useful tools for study and teaching."--PreachingNow

"[Goldingay] is distinguished for his contributions to Old Testament hermeneutics and theology. The book's introduction presents a judicious summary of historical setting, literary style, and the relationship of the Psalms to worship, spirituality, and theology. For each psalm Goldingay offers a fresh translation with footnotes detailing matters of morphology, syntax, and textual criticism. . . . A carefully selected sample of bibliographic suggestions, again set within footnotes, leads the reader to more technical discussion. . . . Goldingay's approach to expressions of anger in the psalms is theologically helpful and pastorally refreshing. . . . This commentary is marked by mature exegetical and spiritual reflection, carefully balanced for the needs of pastors."--John W. Hilber, Bibliotheca Sacra

"It is quickly evident that serious theological digestion on Goldingay's part provides rich pastoral insights. . . . The strength of Goldingay's commentary is twofold: multiplex method and biblical-theological richness. Refreshingly, this covers interests among serious pastors, divinity students, and scholars of the psalms. . . . The literary sensitivity and theological depth of this work may be [one of] the most refreshing contribution[s] to Psalms studies in a generation. From syntax to soul care, Goldingay explores the Psalms in a manner that reflects contemporary insight, exegetical skill, ecclesial commitment, and theological passion honed over a lifetime. . . . May this labor of love help return the Psalms to the pulpits and hearts of believers."--Andrew J. Schmutzer, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society

"The [Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms] series is intended primarily for 'clergy and future clergy,' but it attempts also to reach those without a formal theological education and to offer something to scholars as well. The ultimate concern of the series is the theological significance of the books treated. John Goldingay fulfills these guidelines extremely well. . . . [This volume has] numerous strengths. Goldingay judiciously sifts issues in the text and presents his interpretation clearly. His decisions reflect his reading of massive amounts of secondary material. But instead of rehearsing every technical issue and the opinions about them, Goldingay 'translates' for lay readers and offers an interpretation free of jargon. He provides extensive footnotes and a bibliography at the end of [the] volume for those interested in the scholarly discussion of issues. . . . A welcome resource for those interested in the Psalms from the perspective of faith. Goldingay's work . . . is well informed, theologically sensitive, and will serve well the audience(s) for which it is intended."--Jerome F. D. Creach, Catholic Biblical Quarterly

"[The Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms] series focuses on [Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs] both as ancient literature and as God's Word for today, understood in their canonical context. They could hardly have found a scholar more suited to explaining the Psalter along these lines than John Goldingay. . . . Goldingay is already well known for reading the Bible with open eyes and an open mind, and he does not disappoint in [this volume]. . . . I also appreciated his attention to the theology of literary devices: these are not present merely to entertain but also convey theological freight. . . . [Goldingay's translation] reveals nuances from the Hebrew that might otherwise be missed. Add his perceptive word studies and ample insights from rabbinic and early Christian writers and [this volume] become[s] a treasury of exegetical gold. . . . The study of each psalm concludes with Goldingay's reflection on its theological implications. Here too, Goldingay shines as he brings the depth of insight revealed in his three-volume OT theology to bear on the psalms. His wealth of knowledge, relaxed tone, and frankness allow the reader to hear and understand truths that might otherwise be obscured by one's preconceptions about God. Clearly, Goldingay has a candid, seasoned faith and wants nothing less for his readers. . . . Present and future clergy, as well as the interested lay person and scholar seeking to discover the literary artistry and theological depth of the psalms would be well-advised to secure [this volume]."--Stephen J. Lennox, Bulletin for Biblical Research

"A good contribution to the large collection of commentaries on the Psalms. Features such as glossary, index, and bibliography make this a useful tool for pastors and students."--Jean Borel, Revue d'histoire et de philosophie religieuses